National Teacher Education Standards Project

AFMTE-leaf-onlyAlliance for Massage Therapy Education

National Teacher Education Standards Project


Central to the mission of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is our commitment to strengthen and improve the quality of massage therapy education. In support of this, the Alliance has been consistently working on a comprehensive effort called the National Teacher Education Standards Project (NTESP). The initial phase of this project involved the development of the competency standards for teachers, which are broadly applicable across the continuum of entry-level, continuing education, advanced massage therapy and bodywork training programs, and specialty certification programs. Overall, the goal of the NTESP is to create a culture of teaching excellence in our field.

The National Teacher Education Standards Project has been envisioned as a progression of five phases: 1) Develop Core Competencies; 2) Assemble Teacher Education Resources; 3) Design a Model Teacher Training Curriculum Outline; 4) Develop a Teaching Certificate Program; 5) Encourage Industry Adoption of Teacher Education Standards. Overall, we estimate this project will take 5-10 years to implement.

Update March 2017 : The Alliance (AFMTE) requests proposals for an educational consultant to vet and finalize the Teacher Certificate Program under the National Teacher Education Standards Project (NTESP). Proposals need to be submitted by April 21,2017. The evaluation team will process the bids and award a contract by May 1, 2017. For more details click here.

  1. Develop Core Competencies

The Alliance’s Professional Standards Committee published the final draft of the Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers in January 2013. The competencies are presented as a set of ten standards, each of which describes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) that form the basis for effective and successful teaching.This document – the first of its kind in the massage therapy and bodywork fields – identifies the foundational (KSAs)  that teachers must possess to produce successful and consistent outcomes with adult learners in a variety of massage and bodywork educational settings. Publication of these competencies marked the beginning of a long-term effort to foster a culture of teaching excellence in our field.

These Core Competencies were subjected to several rounds of public comment and revision. A first draft of this document was sent to Alliance members for review prior to our 2011 Conference in Charleston, South Carolina on August 18-20. At this meeting, discussion forums were held to elicit feedback from the education community on the proposed standards. The Professional Standards Committee reviewed collectively the verbal and submitted written comments provided, and presented a second draft of the standards at the 2012 Conference. Attendees at the 2012 Conferences played an integral role in this process. Through dedicated feedback sessions, massage school directors, teachers, CE providers, and representatives of the primary stakeholder organizations in our field provided valuable input on the initial versions of the competencies. The Alliance also sent a preliminary draft to our members for comment. Following a public comment period of 60 days, the Professional Standards Committee reviewed all feedback submitted and made needed revisions to bring the Core Competencies document to completion. The Alliance invites individuals, schools and organizations to read the Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers.

Ancillaries for the Core Competencies: The Alliance’s National Teacher Training Curriculum Development Committee (NTTCDC) has been preparing an Assessment Handbook to accompany the Core Competencies, with the goal of making the Competencies actionable and measureable. We project that this Handbook will be  published by the end of 2016.

  1. Assemble Teacher Education Resources

Our Teacher Resource Development Committee (TRDC) has created a directory of educational resources (e.g., books, articles, websites, teacher trainings) that relates to each of the NTESP standards. This searchable database was compiled to help massage and bodywork teachers achieve competency in the NTESP Core Competencies. We invite you to visit our Teacher Education Resource Database. This is a living document and the committee is currently working on version 2.

  1. Design a Model Teacher Training Curriculum Outline

The National Teacher Training Curriculum Development Committee (NTTCDC) is currently designing a template for a model teacher training curriculum. This template is intended to be used in the evaluation of existing and future massage educator training courses to determine if all of the competencies are covered in the training course. The objectives for each course will be mapped to the core competencies. This document is anticipated to be finished by the end of 2016.

  1. Develop a Teaching Certificate Program

The goal is that the AFMTE provides a national, voluntary teacher certification program to individuals who wish to  exemplify the highest excellence as educators of massage and bodywork. AFMTE certified teachers will be characterized by their ability to integrate the theory and practice of teaching, learning, and assessment for adult student learners in a somatic-based curriculum. They will be known as demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to build engaging and self-motivated learning environments that address varied patterns of student development and make central concepts, tools of inquiry, and subject matter accessible to all learners.

The Certification Process Committee (CPC) is creating a voluntary certification program as a way for teachers to demonstrate they have achieved the Competencies. As one option to certification, the CPC is currently designing a portfolio review process so that experienced teachers can be “grandmothered” into certification without having to go through a formal teacher training process. The portfolio review process will remain in place as one of two optional paths toward teacher certification in the future. We anticipate this to launch in 2017. The other option for achieving certification will be through successful completion of a formal teacher training program that complies with the model teacher training curriculum. The committee has drafted an outline for a massage and bodywork teacher certification program.

Certified massage therapy and bodywork educators will link instruction to well-defined learning objectives, and create strategies for motivating and retaining learners. They will foster students to develop deeper critical thinking skills to improve learning outcomes, achieve a high level of ethical awareness, and encourage collaboration with colleagues and other healthcare professionals. The competencies of the AFMTE teacher certification program will help to graduate ethical, employable massage and bodywork therapists with the knowledge, ability, and skills that can positively impact the massage and bodywork profession.

  1. Encourage Industry Adoption of Teacher Education Standards

The final phase of our National Teacher Education Standards Project will be to work with national accrediting commissions and state regulatory agencies to incorporate these standards into accreditation standards, state board policies, and state regulations governing massage and bodywork.



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